Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and the Armed Forces
In response to a range of insurgencies since the early 1980s, the central government has enacted an extensive array of legislation that places substantial curbs on civil liberties. The National Security Act of 1980, the National Security Amendment Act of 1984, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act of 1985 (which was renewed in 1987 and suspended in 1995), and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act of 1990 are the most significant laws in force. The ramifications of these four laws are sweeping. Under their aegis, the central government has the right of preventive detention, may seek in-camera trials, may send accused individuals before designated courts, and may destroy property belonging to suspected terrorists. Furthermore, under the terms of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, members of the armed forces cannot be prosecuted for actions committed in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this law.
During the 1980s and 1990s, both international and domestic human rights groups asserted that human rights violations are rampant. The principal international organizations making these allegations are the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, and Asia Watch. Two Indian counterparts are the People's Union for Civil Liberties and the People's United Democratic Front. Indian and foreign press reports have alleged that local police and paramilitary forces have engaged in rape, torture, and beatings of suspects in police custody. Numerous "militants" reportedly have simply disappeared in Jammu and Kashmir. On other occasions, especially in Punjab, security forces on various occasions allegedly captured insurgents and then shot them in staged "encounters" or "escapes." The government has either vigorously challenged these allegations or asserted that condign punishment had been meted out against offenders. The government has made efforts to blunt the barrage of domestic and foreign criticism. One such effort was the establishment of the five-member National Human Rights Commission in 1993 composed of senior retired judges. A report released by the commission in November 1993 cited eighty Bombay police officials for "atrocities, ill treatment, collusion, and connivance" and for "being openly on the side of the Hindu aggressors" during the December 1992 Hindu-Muslim riots. The commission's mandate does not extend to violations in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast India, and it must rely on state investigative agencies for its field work.
Insurgent Movements and External Subversion
Data as of September 1995